Skip to Content

Cannabis Abuse


Cannabis (marijuana) abuse

is a pattern of use that causes physical or mental problems. Cannabis can make you feel high, happy, or excited. The effects may start right away and last for 3 to 4 hours depending on whether you smoke or eat cannabis.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Use prevents you from functioning at work or school, or causes you to be absent often or to do poor work
  • Use when it is dangerous to be under the effects of the drug, such as when you are driving a vehicle or using machinery
  • Problems with the police when you are under the effects of cannabis
  • Continuing to use cannabis even when you argue with your family and friends about your use
  • More cannabis is needed to give you the high feeling or other effects that you want
  • Withdrawal symptoms after you stop using cannabis

Cannabis withdrawal

happens when you have used cannabis for a long period of time, and you suddenly take less or stop taking it. Withdrawal symptoms may start on the first day and may last up to 2 weeks.

  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Night sweats and trouble sleeping
  • Craving for cannabis
  • Feeling irritable, agitated, anxious, or restless
  • Depressed or negative mood

Seek care immediately if:

  • The effects of cannabis have worn off, and you have shortness of breath, a fast heart rate, or chest pain.
  • You want to hurt or kill yourself or others.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You cannot fight the urge to use cannabis.
  • You have stopped using cannabis, and feel that you cannot cope with your withdrawal symptoms.
  • You want help or more information on how to decrease or stop using cannabis.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for cannabis abuse

may include any of the following:

  • Brief intervention therapy is done by meeting with a healthcare provider who will talk to and encourage you. During therapy, you will discuss your cannabis use. The healthcare provider will help you understand that you are responsible for making changes in your life. He will explain how you can be helped by decreasing or stopping cannabis use, and give you treatment options.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you change your thinking and behavior. It can help you manage depression and anxiety caused by cannabis use. CBT can help you learn good coping skills and ways to manage stress. CBT can be done with you and a talk therapist or in a group.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy is used to help motivate you and help set goals to change your behavior and stop cannabis abuse.
  • Group, marriage, and family therapy can help you find support and motivation to stop cannabis abuse. You meet with others who also want to stop using cannabis. Marriage and family therapy can help you by including others to support you in your treatment.
  • Vouchers are rewards for attending therapy or not using cannabis. You may need to provide urine samples for testing. If your urine shows no signs of cannabis use, you may get a voucher. This program may report you to the court, or tell your family or friends if you decide to use cannabis.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Cannabis Abuse (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes